Arafat: Dead man walking?

By Alan Caruba
web posted February 19, 2001

Yasser ArafatFor years now, many observers of the Middle East conflict have privately or openly wondered why the Israelis bothered to "negotiate" with Yasser Arafat, the chairman of the Palestinian Liberation Organization. Certainly, Rabin who paid with his life and Barak who was turned out of office seemed to believe they could actually achieve some measure of peace with him.

An editorial in February 11's Little Rock, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, noted that "Israel's voters turned to Ariel Sharon ... for the same reason Britain turned to Winston Churchill in May of 1940: The voice in the wilderness, the most irascible leader of the opposition, had proved a prophet. And his country had finally recognized it. Countries will do that when sandbagged by reality."

Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu, the former Israeli Prime Minister, and most certainly, Ariel Sharon, the new one, have no such illusions. Sharon, however, has the problem of bringing together the political forces in Israel to effect a real solution to the problem of a determined enemy within their midst. That is not going to be easy. Still, it must be said that Sharon has always had peace as his ultimate goal. The efforts of Barak and others have failed. The Israelis have awakened from their decade-long dreams of conciliation through negotiation. Now will come a peace imposed by the sword. A Pax Hebraica.

To anyone who has not concluded that there has been and is an active war occurring against Israel today, the bus attack on Tuesday that killed eight people, mostly Israeli soldiers, and injured up to 20 others should be sufficient evidence. This isn't just "a cycle of action and reaction" as characterized by President Bush's statement concerning the latest attack. This is war, pure and simple.

The Palestinian people who live in Israel need to make a decision about whether they are citizens of that nation, bound by its laws, or not. If not, they should leave. They do not live in "occupied territories" as the longtime fiction maintains. They live in a sovereign nation. Those who threaten that nation should expect it to defend itself and its people. Alone among the nations of that area, Israel functions as a democracy. It has been our ally since its founding and we should treat it as such.

In late January, Jane's Foreign Report, a respected source of information on military and international affairs, reported that Israeli army commando forces have been systematically assassinating the leaders of Hamas, the Islamic Jihad, and Fatah. Many have fled Israel. These are the men around Arafat who plan and execute the violence against Israeli citizens. The assassinations are intended to encourage Arafat to end the violence being waged against the civilian population of Israel.

Even when he was in Tunis, working in exile, the Israelis assassinated one of his key people. It appears that Arafat, a true terrorist, doesn't care who else dies for his cause, so long as it isn't him.

The Associated Press reported that, on Tuesday last, "Israeli helicopters targeted a member of an elite unit in Yasser Arafat's police force and killed him with a missile as he drove on a busy street marking a return to Israel's policy of slaying suspected Palestinian militants." There ain't no "suspected" about it. They know where they live and what car they drive.

There is an old saying that you have to kill a snake from the head. This leads me to predict that Yasser Arafat is a "dead man walking." This term for prisoners being led to the execution chamber in US prisons aptly describes the prison in which Arafat has placed himself. I believe his days are numbered.

Let's begin the countdown. There are ten months left to the year 2001. I'm betting Arafat will not be around to celebrate another Christmas in Bethlehem.

Alan Caruba is the founder of The National Anxiety Center and writes a weekly column, "Warning Signs", posted on the Center's Internet site which can be found at © Alan Caruba, 2001.

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